Matt BellamyCurrently on tour promoting their latest album Simulation Theory, Muse are performing sold out stadium gigs all over the world. Each night frontman and guitarist Matt Bellamy brings out a one-of-a-kind guitar with a remarkable history to play the song ‘The Dark Side.’

Bellamy says that ‘the guitar works great’ – the story of how it was conceived and built is just a few short weeks is worth telling...

Being something of a perfectionist, Bellamy wants the sounds Muse create in the studio to follow them on stage as far as is possible. One essential part of this sound is that of the Arturia Prophet V synthesiser. Already a user of Fishman’s TriplePlay Midi guitar pickup/controller – both on stage and in the studio – he wished to use it to play the Arturia synth live but without distance, range, cables and a computer getting in the way of his stage performance.

Muse's Matt Bellamy‘When Matt told me he absolutely wanted to use the Prophet V softsynth live on tour but still be able to move around the stage without any restrictions, I knew we had to find a new kind of solution that would take the computer out of the picture,’ says the band’s guitar tech, Chris Whitemyer, ‘

Aware of Swedish music tech company Mind Music Labs and how the ELK MusicOS could run plug-ins and instruments on hardware, Whitemyer thought Mind might be the missing piece of the puzzle and approached the company at the 2019 Namm Show. Together with Fishman and Arturia, a first meeting was held in the Mind Music Labs booth on the show floor just a few weeks before the start of Muse’s 2019 world tour – provoking several weeks’ frenetic activity from the three companies that resulted a new kind of guitar deing developed just in time for the tour’s first date in Houston, Texas.

‘Going to that first meeting at Namm I didn’t know what to expect,’ says Fishman founder and president Larry Fishman. ‘But as soon as we plugged in the guitar with our TriplePlay system in the Powered by ELK audio interface board, it was pretty clear that the Fishman and ELK systems would be compatible.’

What was clear from the meeting was that the reliability of the Fishman TriplePlay Midi Guitar Controller in combination with ELKs ability to run plug-ins inside the guitar could open up a new world for performers like Matt Bellamy. And with the tour just weeks away, a plan was hatched to get the system finalised and ready for use in the most demanding of conditions – a world tour of arenas and stadia.

‘Getting three different companies to join forces on a special project like this does not happen very often, so this was truly special,’ says Mind Music Labs CEO, Michele Benincaso. ‘To go from a first meeting at Namm to a functioning system in just weeks was a mind-blowing achievement. It required the special expertise and focused efforts of all three companies to pull it off – I can still hardly believe we did.’

Only days after the closing of the Namm Show, Mind Music Labs CTO Stefano Zambon flew to Fishman’s headquarters to figure out how to get a powered by ELK audio board inside a guitar, that not only plays well enough to satisfy a world class performer, but could also control the Arturia Prophet V with extremely low latency.

Fishman’s TriplePlay Midi guitar pickup/controller

‘To see one of our V Collection classic products like the Prophet V on Stage with Muse is very exciting,’ says Arturia CEO Frédéric Brun, ‘The fact that it is that same plug-in running in the guitar as you use in the studio really makes all the difference. I mean, Matt even uses the same preset in the studio,’

Just weeks after the initial meeting at Namm, Muse went on stage in Houston in front of a packed Toyota Center. Seven songs into the show Whitemyer handed Bellamy the new guitar for the song ‘The Dark Side’.

‘When all the guys got together to build this, we didn’t tell Matt that a new guitar was going to be built or maybe not built,’ says Whitemyer. ‘I just gave it to him for the first show and told him he could walk as far as he wanted on stage. He just said ‘Oh, Cool’.’

‘I had no doubt in my mind it would work and it performed flawlessly. When I first got the guitar one week before the first show I tested it very thoroughly, leaving it on for four hours, turning it off and on 50 or more times, and jumping up and down with it and bouncing it off a mattress. It passed all the tests. The guitar is rock solid. Matt and I couldn’t be happier. It does everything I hoped it would and it’s on stage every night’

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